I bought a Wii U

Thanks to a GameStop clearance sale, I bought a Wii U, 32gb version.

Technically, it’s used, but, and I didn’t expect that, GameStop did a good job of refurbishing it. The GamePad was absolutely perfect, without a single scratch, and a transparent skin was applied to the console itself, probably to hide any scratches. In the end it was as if it had been new, except for the manual, replaced with 2 photocopied sheets.

One thing immediately caught my eye… or rather, my ear: surround sound. Thanks to the many speakers on the gamepad, that are combined with the already existing audio, the sound effects of the menu are exceptional! Yes, not many games use three-dimensional sound, but the background music in the menu is exceptionally engaging!

Although aesthetically it looks like a “Wii HD”, it’s actually very different. Here, Nintendo’s marketing has been a match: I’ve always snubbed it “because 350 euros for playing the Wii in HD is too much”. In fact there are many innovations, although not very well implemented. (For example, the pad is switched on to consume battery power even when you don’t need it, like when you watch a movie on Netflix… what’s the point?)

In particular, Nintendo has decided to close all the bugs in the Wii by removing all possible entry routes for hackers.

Compared to the old model:

  • the possibility of making a backup copy of game saves on an SD card has been removed. If the console breaks down, all your saves are lost forever. This is to prevent the console from being hacked with a corrupt save. But at what price…
  • The photo channel and audio player has been removed. The old Wii photo channel was made very well, ideal for a “slide show event”, with background music. But, perhaps, hackers could have found some exploits in libJPEG and then “better take it all out, for security”.
  • The possibility to transfer Mii from and to Wiimote has been removed. Even here, maybe they were afraid of some exploits, but I transferred my Mii between two Wii and also in Dolphin thanks to this feature and now there is an easy way to bring them on the new console …
  • Almost all channels with content from the internet, such as “Rate my Mii”, weather, news, horoscope, polls, have been removed. Maybe everything was grouped together inside Miiverse, which I could never try because it was closed years ago.
  • the Bluray player remains “wasted”, to save 3 euros of patents MPEG and h264, you can not play DVD movies or Bluray “because everyone has a DVD player at home”. I don’t know about you, but I never had a DVD/Bluray player at home. If they put a player on the eShop for 20 euros it could have been interesting.

…and in the end everything was useless thanks to the presence of exploits in the browser (and that’s why there is no browser on the Switch) or in the DS emulator of the Virtual Console (also absent on the Switch)

Automatically generated humans

Who’s this asian girl? Nobody!

This picture has been automatically generated!

By visiting the site at ThisPersonDoesNotExist.com you will get a new random “human creation”, generated by an algorithm! Impressive!

Some results have very evident artefacts, but it’s still impressive!

The video below shows all the possible combinations, millions, and the possibility to adapt it with other kind of photos (after training of the model, with thousands and thousands of sample pics)

Valentine’s day in Japan

In Japan, during Valentine’s day, it’s a social obligation for girls to give Chocolate to boys. There are many different levels of chocolate gifts, from the “honmei-choco”, the “true love” chocolate, to the “giri-choco”, the “i give it to everyone otherwise they will be disapponted” chocolate.

In the NHK series “Home Sweet Tokyo” it’s explained in a fun way in the “True love Choco” episode

This series is fun and educational, but for some kind of reason, NHK deleted all the previous episodes, leaving just the latest 4…

This particular episode will be deleted in december, 2019. Watch it as soon as you can!

The wife is played by Yoshino Kimura, which is great, after seeing her “evil” in “My dangerous wife” and “Black Widow Business”

Trust no one

In my last post I wrote about Mark Rober’s porch pirates trap.

An Imgur user did a very thorough investigation, from few details he managed to know the address of Cici’s house, and it came out that 2 reactions out of 5 were faked: the package was never stolen.

Why?

As it was later explained in a public apology, Mark asked around his neighbors is someone could host the trap outside the house, giving a monetary compensation for each attempt. 5 attempts in a few days looked many to me, all on the same address!

The neighbor pretended to help, but just wanted to take the reward, faking the attempts!

The trap to find dishonest people worked too well…

Revenge against porch pirates

When I lived in the USA, something that was unbelievable for me, it was that packages were left outside of the door, without even knocking the door! I understand that you need to deliver a lot of packages, but at least ring the bell! When I did my first online order in the US, an AT&T GoPhone, I was totally shocked when the following day the UPS left it outside the door. I thought “if they did this in my country, the package would have been stolen immediately”

Well, it looks like packages are stolen from the porch, there’s people who drive around and when they see a package, they steal it.

Since the police doesn’t care about it, Mark Rober, who has worked for 9 years as a NASA engineer, decided to get revenge: a device that would cause a glitter explosion in the thief hands, with a fart spray. And with four internet connected cameras, to get their reaction!

Awesome!

How to disable the SIM PIN in a Xiaomi phone

How to disable (or change) the SIM PIN in a Xiaomi smartphone? MIUI seems intuitive, but this option is hidden very well. I’m writing this post as for the third time I forgot where it was…

First, go to settings, then “additional settings”, then privacy:

Then, scroll until you see SIM LOCK (or similar, according to your language), and choose the SIM card that you want to edit.

Then you untick “SIM lock”

It was very hard to find this, I was confusing it with the SIM lock!

Videogame effects applied on real actions

Misozi-Salaryman has a YouTube channel where periodically uploads videos with complex choreograpies based on swords, katana and even umbrella.

Then @VascoDaArc with a lot of patience uses a “raw” and hard to use software like AviUtl and applies effects like in Devil May Cry.

こちらaviutl製でございます。 pic.twitter.com/cR9iSl4K92— Vasco (@VascoDaArc) 8 dicembre 2018

Really? AviUtl?? Not Adobe After Effects???

So, a “weird” video like the one with fighting umbrellas, becomes this:

Which fan to use in a Zyxel NSA 320?

Well, this is definitely a niche post, because the Zyxel NSA320 not only is out of production, but it’s not that popular in the United States.

This Zyxel is a NAS, a Network Attached Storage, a shared hard drive to use with all the computers in your network. It has two disk drives in RAID 1: if one breaks, there’s another copy, for safe and quick data recovery.

I bought one 4-5 years ago, and it’s a great device, but being on 24/7, the fan has degraded, first it become noisy, then it stopped working altogether! Without the fan, the CPU started to reach 75° C!

So, this is the fan they used in this device: it’s an ADDA AD-0612MX-G76, 12V, size 60x60x10 mm. This specific model costs 20 euro, too expensive. Anyway, since the connector is a standard 3 pin one, you can buy any similar fan.

I got this Startech fan for 6 euro, it’s more silent but at the same time it has a very faint but high pitched noise. Maybe another fan would have been better.

Moreover, because the CPU does not have any heatsink (!!! WTF) but it just has a fan nearby, i got also those small heatsinks, designed for the Raspberry Pi. The big one one the CPU, and four small ones on the RAM chips. Since I don’t really trust the thermal glue they came with, which could loosen with heat and touch other components, creating a short, I placed the NAS on a side, instead of keeping it straight.

Ps: I also have a Zyxel NSA325, but the fan size is different.

Hunting the Wumpus

Reading the ebook about computing in the 60s and 70s, I learned about the HP 2100, a computer that could serve up to 32 users at the same time.

This computer did not have screens, but wrote everything on this kind of “printer+keyboard”, a teletype.

Everything that should appear on the screen, was instead printed on paper by the teletype, that could be far, connected by phone.

This computer was very expensive, around $100k, so it was reserved for academic, military or business users. Of course, when someone is bored, will play games. This is a game that it’s still possible to play today, by writing

telnet mickey.publicvm.com

your PC will connect to this HP 2100 simulator and will let you play to this “pre-historical” games (a note: in some Windows versions, the telnet command is not preinstalled)

How does it work? First of all, imagine being in a cave with 20 rooms, all interconnected. This is a drawing from the original programmer:In a room could be a deadly pit, some huge bats that will bring you somewhere else at random, or the Wumpus. If the monster is inside that room, it could be startled and run in an adjacent cave (75% chance) or it could eat us (25%).

When the teletype prints out our adventure, you should image the map:

Of course, for today standards this is unplayable, but it’s interesting to see how computer games were played 45 years ago.

I did a gameplay video:

Or you could play this javascript version: https://osric.com/wumpus/